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Sins of the Father


Series : The Next Generation Rating : 5
Disc No : 3.4 Episode : 64
First Aired : 19 Mar 1990 Stardate : 43685.2
Director : Les Landau Year : 2366
Writers : Drew Deighan, Ronald D. Moore, W. Read Morgan Season : 3
Guest Cast :
Charles Cooper as K'mpec
Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
Patrick Massett as Duras
Teddy Davis as Transporter tech
Thelma Lee as Kahlest
Tony Todd as Commander Kurn
Moral :
Politics : In a land of hypocrites, it's more important than honour
YATI : When Picard accepts Worf's offer to become his cha'DIch, Picard accepts by speaking in Klingon, then translates it into English. Who is he translating it for, exactly? Not Worf, not himself... it's as if he thinks somebody is watching or something!

It's a minor thing, but Picard orders the ship to head for "the first city of the Klingon Imperial Empire." Isn't "Imperial Empire" rather redundant?

Kahlest declared that "Mogh was loyal to the Emperor!" What Emperor would that be? We've since discovered in the episode "Rightful Heir" that there is no Emperor in the Klingon Empire, and hasn't been for centuries. Rather, it is governed by the Chancellor.

I know the intention is to show that the crew is used to a more relaxed atmosphere, but still... both Wesley and Data think that it's acceptable to have a little chat whilst the first officer is giving a speech to the bridge crew? Really? Shutting up and listening whilst a senior officer speaks is basic politeness even in Starfleet!

So when Duras has a couple of thugs try to murder Kurn, they stab him in the stomach and then just leave him lying there. We've been told over and over that Klingons have amazing powers to recover from physical injury, which is just what Kurn does here. Why on Earth wouldn't a Klingon assassin stab him a bunch more times to make sure the job was done?

Great Moment : Worf's discommendation.
Body Count : Kurn is injured, two Klingon assassins are killed.
Factoid : Plenty of firsts in this episode. It was Trek episode to show us the Klingon home world. The first to feature the Duras family, who would be occasional enemies in both TNG and DS9 and even on into the movie Generations. It was Tony Todd's first appearance in Trek, and the first appearance of Worf's brother Kurn. It would also lay the first seeds of the Klingon Civil War.

Richard James won an Emmy award for best art direction for the design of the Klingon Great Hall and other sets in the episode.

Ron Moore would later remark that this episode marked a fundamental shift in the way Star Trek was made, introducing long-running story arcs that would span episodes and even different spin-off series. "What that did to the franchise overall was it suddenly said there's a continuing story here... as soon as Worf walks out the door with his dishonour it demands a follow-up. And that's why we eventually came back to 'Reunion' and 'Redemption' and on and on and on. All the Worf stories spring from that moment, and also opened up the whole franchise to the idea that maybe we can do continuing stories. It was really a pivotal moment looking back on how we structured Next Generation."


As part of the Federation-Klingon officer exchange program which Riker once participated in, a Klingon officer arrives on the Enterprise-D to serve a stint as first officer of the ship. Commander Kurn's command style is highly demanding of the crew and extremely brusque - when Riker offers to help Kurn assimilate Starfleet protocols and points out that the ship is not a Klingon, the Klingon offhandedly informs him that had it been one, he would have killed Riker for his offer.

However, Kurn takes a very different attitude with Worf. He lavishes praise on Worf for ever action he performs, no matter how minor, to such an extent that it is clearly intended as mockery. When an enraged Worf demands to know what Kurn is up to, Kurn reveals the truth - he deliberately mocked him in order to see if his reaction would be a righteous Klingon anger, testing whether Word was truly Klingon at heart. Kurn is in fact Worf's younger brother, who applied for service on the Enterprise-D specifically to meet him. Kurn was at left with a friend of their father, Lorgh, during the Khittomer massacre, and was subsequently raised as Lorgh's own child.

Kurn informs Worf that their father Mogh is being declared as a traitor by Duras, a powerful member of the Klingon high council and the son of Mogh's greatest rival. Duras claims to have evidence that Mogh betrayed the Klingons on Khittomer, giving the Romulan patrol ships the defence access codes which allowed them to successfully attack the colony. Worf decides to travel to the Klingon home-world to challenge this version of events. Since a son is considered responsible for the actions of his father in Klingon culture, if Worf fails he will be blamed for Mogh's treason and most likely executed. Worf orders that Kurn's true identity remain secret during the process.

The Enterprise-D travels to the Klingon home-world and Worf makes his challenge. Captain Picard asks Data to research the attack on Khittomer in detail, looking for any evidence that might help Worf. Meanwhile K'mpec, the leader of the High Council, asks Worf to drop his challenge. He argues that it was long ago and something that Worf, as a Federation officer, really doesn't need to involve himself with. Worf rejects this advice, stating that an attack on his father is an attack on his personal honour.

Duras, aware of Kurn's true bloodline, asks him to drop his support for Worf. When Kurn refuses, two Klingon assassins attack him. Despite a fierce fight Kurn is stabbed in the stomach, though Doctor Crusher is able to save his life.

Data locates the evidence against Mogh - a copy of logs captured from a Romulan ship recently which indicate a transmission from the outpost to the Romulan ship just moments before the shields went down. The transmission had Mogh's personal security code on them. Cross-checking with the logs of the USS Intrepid, which monitored the attack via long range sensors, Data discovers that the transmission happened during one of several gaps in the Intrepid's logs caused by the great distance involved. The coincidence in timing raises the crew's suspicions, prompting Data and Geordi to investigate the timeline of the data carefully. They find that whilst the events in both logs are in perfect synch before the gap in question, after the shields dropped the two are slightly out of synch. Thus, the Romulan log must have been edited.

With Kurn in sickbay Captain Picard acts as Worf's second in the inquest, prompting a threat from Duras - a threat that Picard responds to by calmly inviting Duras to attack him whenever he wishes. The investigation continues, with Beverly finding records of another survivor from the massacre, a woman called Kahlest who was severely injured and transferred to Starbase 24 for treatment. The crew locate Khalest on the Klingon home-world and Picard goes to visit her. She confirms that Mogh was no traitor, though she cannot prove it. As Picard leaves two Klingon assassins attack him, but he and Kahlest are able to kill them. She agrees to go with Picard to the Great Hall - though she has no proof, Picard knows that she will be recognised as another survivor and her presence along might prompt further revelations.

K'mpec immediately tries to suppress Kahlest's testimony, fearing that it might indeed exonerate Mogh. He reveals the hidden truth - he has known all along that Mogh was non traitor. In fact it was Duras' father who betrayed the Klingons at Khittomer, but Duras is so powerful politically that blaming him would split the Empire and result in civil war. Picard scorns the decision, coming from a race who hold the concept of honour in such high regard, and states that as Captain of the Enterprise he will refuse to allow Worf to face punishment for a crime he is innocent of, even if it destroys the alliance between the Klingons and the Federation.

Worf makes a face-saving offer; he will accept discommendation from the High Council, a stripping of his personal honour that Klingons regard as being worse than death. Mogh's name will be blackened, and Kurn's true identity will remain hidden so that he need not face any consequences. K'mpec accepts, and Worf is formally stripped of his honour. Captain Picard notes that one day there will be a reckoning and matters will be set right.


An all round excellent episode. This one started out as two different episodes, one in which Worf's father was accused of being a traitor and one in which Worf's brother came to the Enterprise-D. You can practically see the weld between the two, but it actually works for me. One of the dangers of any given episode is that the proceedings might run out of steam along the line, resulting in things getting boring. That's one reason episodes typically have an A-plot/B-plot structure. But here the episode starts out as one thing, with Kurn coming and playing a fish out of water king of character. Then we get the revalation of who he really is, and the episode spins into a bit of a courtroom drama and mystery with some political intrigue thrown in. It keeps the episode fresh and interesting throughout.

Of even more interest is the look we get into Klingon culture. It's wonderful to see them being given some real complexity and depth here. Some of that is in the details - seeing their planet, their architecture, that kind of thing. But even more than that is the functioning of their government, both in terms of what it claims to be and what it actually is and the contrast between those two things. There's a TVTrope called "Planet of hats" which Star Trek falls into absurdly often. Essentially, it is a situation in which an alien race are all identical in one respect - they are all robots, or gangsters, or cowards, or proud warriors - the name comes from the idea of having an alien species who differ from Humans only in that they all wear a particular type of hat. There are reasons why writers tend to do this, especially on Star Trek, and previously there has been an element of this with Klingons.

Here we find that they are not in fact a race of proud warriors obsessed with honour. We see Kahlest, who is struggling with survivor guilt and considers herself 'dead' already, we see Duras who is a man wholly without honour, willing to lie and murder to cover up his father's crimes, we see K'mpec, who appears to genuinely want to do the right thing but is quite willing to lie and cheat for the sake of political expediency. Pretty much the only person in the whole episode that is actually concerned with honour and doing the right thing is Worf, and even he ultimately accepts a lie in order to prevent civil war. As Ezri Dax would one day point out in Deep Space Nine, the Klingons are actually not a people who particularly care about honour. Rather, they are a people who care about the appearance of honour. Sometimes that has the same outcome, but oftentimes it does not. It adds a whole new layer of complexity to the race, and makes them a good deal more interesting.

Special Edition

This was one of three episodes initially remastered into HD as a test for the process which would eventually be applied to all Next Gen episodes. Changes included a few effect shots being replaced with digital equivalents. In the original upgrade some 13 seconds of original film stock from the episode was found to be missing, and so had to be upgraded from existing standard definition footage. The stock was subsequently discovered and a full remastered section incorporated for the blu-ray release.
Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 9,535 Last updated : 10 Aug 2016